Soho Square Area: Portland Estate, No. 3 Soho Square

Pages 56-57

Survey of London: Volumes 33 and 34, St Anne Soho. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1966.

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No. 3 Soho Square

In January 1680/1 Richard Frith and William Pym leased the two houses on the sites of Nos. 3 and 6 Soho Square to Cadogan Thomas of Lambeth, timber merchant, for forty-seven and a half years from Lady Day 1681. (fn. 1) The houses were 'then in building' by Frith and Thomas, or one or other of them, at the cost of Thomas, (fn. 2) who was allowed a peppercorn rent during the first six months of the two leases, presumably in order to allow time for him to complete the two houses. Thereafter the annual rent was to be £115s. for each house, with an additional ten shillings (fn. 1) 'towards the makeing and keeping in repaire the Rayles, Payles, Fountaine and Garden in the middle of the said Square'. (fn. 2) The frontage of each house was twenty-two feet (fn. 3) and each curtilage included a stable and coach-house in a large stable-yard nearby. This yard was to be shared with John Wells, a tenant of another unidentified site in the square and probably the same John Wells, gentleman, who built houses in Wells (now Lower John) Street, Golden Square. (fn. 4)

At the end of March 1681 Cadogan Thomas mortgaged both houses for £300 each to Samuel Hoyle, citizen and stationer of London. (fn. 3) A year later Hoyle wished to redeem the mortgage on one of the houses, but Thomas was unable to repay him, and Hoyle therefore mortgaged it to Anthony Edmonds, gentleman. (fn. 2) Shortly afterwards Benjamin Hinton of London, goldsmith, to whom both Frith and Thomas owed large sums of money, was declared bankrupt and in December 1684 they conveyed the equity of redemption of a number of sites in Soho Square, including those of Nos. 3 and 6, to the group of merchants who were the assignees of Hinton's bankruptcy. (fn. 4) Several Chancery lawsuits ensued, and ultimately Nos. 3 and 6 appear to have come into the possession of Captain Edward Le Neve, (fn. 5) whose family certainly held the leases of both houses in 1713. (fn. 6)

No. 3 was complete and occupied by 1684 when it was in the possession of the first Earl of Carlisle. He died in the following year and the next occupant was a Mr. John Waltson or Wattson who paid an annual rent of £55. (fn. 4) Sir Michael Wentworth was living here in 1691. (fn. 7)

Sir John Stonehouse occupied the house from 1707 to January 1715/16 and then let it to Dudley North of Glemham Hall, Suffolk, esquire, for thirteen years at £70 per annum rent. Stonehouse had already reglazed, painted, whitewashed and otherwise put the house into good order and covenanted to repair the foundations before the following Lady Day. In 1725 the rebuilding of the adjoining house on the north side, No. 4 Soho Square, necessitated the demolition and re-erection of the party wall between the two houses. At the same time No. 3 had to be propped up, the chimneys underpinned and the wainscoting on the party wall removed and later replaced when the rebuilding next door was over. The bricklayers Thomas Lucas (then rebuilding Nos. 4 and 5) and Henry Hathwell carried out this work at a cost of £35. (fn. 8)

In 1735 the house was rebuilt for Edward Le Neve, who then held the Portland lease. (fn. 9) Later inhabitants include William Northey, Wiltshire landowner and M.P., 1743–6, who later lived at No. 5, and Richard Payne Knight, the savant and collector, 1808–24, whose accumulations of antique bronzes, coins and jewels (now in the British Museum) were first housed here. (fn. 7) (fn. c1)

From 1830 to 1892 the house was occupied by Messrs. Kirkman, piano makers. (fn. 7) It was demolished in 1903 for the erection of the present building (fig. 3), which was designed by Charles H. Worley. (fn. 10) The assertive front elevation is of a distinctly Art Nouveau character. The general form is concave, nearly filled at the first and second floors by a large stuccoed bow. The main walling is in a hard red brick with banded red and grey granite at ground-floor level. There is a simple rear elevation of brick at No. 7 Dean Street (see page 131), with unusually large windows.


  • 1. Leases recited in P.R.O., C10/228/36 and KB27/2040/1187.
  • 2. P.R.O., C6/291/12.
  • 3. P.R.O., KB27/2040/1187.
  • 4. Ibid., C10/228/36.
  • 5. Ibid., loc. cit.; C6/291/12.
  • 6. Nottingham University, Portland MSS., Soho lease book.
  • 7. R.B.
  • 8. East Suffolk and Ipswich Record Office, HA49.
  • 9. Nottingham University, Portland MSS., Soho lease book; R.B.
  • 10. Royal Academy Catalogue, 1903, no. 1462.
  • c1. In 1809 a Mr Andrews, builder, added a library for Payne Knight with a cast-iron ceiling. A perspective and plan of this by C. R. Cockerell was sold by Sothebys in May 1986.